The Hendersons 2008 Choir Tour - Berchtesgaden
2008 Choral Union European Concert Tour and Our Subsequent Vacation
July 6 – Prague to Berchtesgaden
Along the way we stopped in a little town (Pisek) where we saw a delightful old bridge (with a dreadful Communist era building in the background) and a lovely sun dial on the side of a home.
We also saw a rather different advertisement for mens' underwear.
You can tell
this isn't Tom hanging out his undies - the hair color is wrong.
hotel was nothing special. It was located a few kilometers from the
center of old Berchtesgaden, and was a little 'tired'. We have become
very accustomed to non-smoking areas in hotels and restaurants, which
the Europeans are beginning to adopt, however, they haven't managed to
air out the public spaces yet, so the smell of smoke is still a bit
strong. I am sure that the all-seeing European Union will mandate
non-smoking areas soon - afterall, the EU knows best, but it hasn't
happened everywhere yet.
we dropped our luggage we changed into concert dress and were taken
into the town center for rehearsal and our performance. The little town
of Berchesgaden is very picturesque and many of the people dress in
traditional costumes - lederhosen for the men, and dirndles (very
colorful) for the women,
venue was a very pretty church, Pfarrkirche St. Andreas. It was largely
Baroque style, with lots of little angels (are these 'putti'? I don't
know for sure) and filigree. The concert opened with several pieces by
the Vokal Ensemble ChorissiMA, a local group. Their pieces were largely
folk songs and Brahms.
concert was very well received - we had an enthusiastic audience and
the church was nearly full. Richard cut a few pieces from the
repertoire to keep the concert length manageable.
we went to the parish hall for a reception with the other choir.
Because we weren't all seated, there was more mingling this time.
and I left after only a short visit in the parish hall - we needed to
get Euros (the Czech Republic hasn't adopted the Euro yet) and we were
hungry. We passed a little Italian restaurant on the way into the town
square. There were a couple of locals sitting at tables outside the
restaurant - they were very effusive in their praise for our
performance (they could tell we were part of Choral Union because we
were still in concert dress). They said the food in the restaurant was
very good, so we told them we'd be back after we got some money.
we returned, we were invited inside - there were about 12 locals inside
at tables pushed together. They made room for us and we had a
delightful evening chatting with them. Several of them are headed for
the US on vacation, the prices in the US being very attractive - a
combination of the weak dollar versus the strong Euro and also the
price inflation which has occurred in Germany.
waitress was a local woman - 24 years old - she spoke excellent
English. The owner was a Neapolitan who spoke little German and no
English. We were able to converse with him in Italian, which was a lot
of fun. Several other Choral Union members came in and we had a lot of
fun teasing Salvatore. Our waitress was an interesting young woman -
she had bicycled across China to Tibet - imagine! And she did this on
her own! Eric Faris, one of our group, was very impressed.
We walked back to the hotel -
it was late and very dark, but there weren't any mishaps.
Monday, July 7 - Berchtesgaden
had breakfast in the hotel - the usual German fare of rolls, cheese,
cold cuts and coffee. In a concession to Americans, most places serve
scrambled eggs (which I don't care for) and some hot meats (sausages of
various descriptions and bacon or ham). Fresh fruit is rare.
breakfast we loaded into the coach (the new bus hadn't arrived from
Prague yet) and drove up to the 'Eagle's Nest', Hitler's so-called
mountain hideaway. Our guide was Phillip, who is a history and Spanish
teacher in Salzburg. He was very knowledgeable about the Nazi period.
In his opinion (and I agree with him), the Nazis could not have risen
to power had the treaty of Versailles been more just. However, the
combination of the land grab by the French and the horrible war
reparations imposed on a weakened country at the close of WWI led to
great resentment by the Germans. Hitler was able to play on these
resentments and found a convenient scapegoat in the Jews and in
capitalism in general. Furthermore, the German people did not have a
history of democracy, so their initial experiment with democracy in the
Weimar Republic was doomed to failure. I think the younger German
people go through a lot of soul searching because of the two world
wars. On other occasions when we have met Germans they hasten to try to
reassure us that they were not responsible for the wars or for the
systematic attempts to eradicate the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and
Eagle's Nest was interesting enough, but it was pouring down, windy and
a bit cold. It wasn't at all grand - rather austere.
we left the Eagle's Nest, we were dropped off in Berchtesgaden for
lunch. Tom and I shared a very overpriced schnitzel. It tasted good,
but one schnitzel and two waters came to over 18 Euros - about $28 -
ridiculous! I wanted to buy some cherries at one of the local stands,
but they were about $7 a pound.
walked back to the hotel, where I did a few pieces of laundry, then met
the coach for the trip out to the Konigsee. We loaded into a little
boat for a ride on the lake. It is a beautiful lake, but it was raining
very hard, so wasn't all that pleasant, However, on the way back we
sang 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to Nathan and Jennifer Gorham who
were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. I struck up a
conversation with a young German woman from Berlin - she wanted to
practice her English - Tom and I tried to explain the difference
between American English and British English to her - a bit of a
challenge given the noise level and her English competency.
replacement coach arrived some time after we returned to the boat
landing, so Ivan got out his keyboard and entertained us. At last our
coach did arrive and we
were back in full force.
Because of the rain, Tom and I had dinner in the hotel rather than going back to the village. It was good enough, but the wine was pretty awful.